Sure, Michael Weiss’ commentary based on working with various skaters on Stars on Ice and his empathy for newly risen senior skaters provides interesting insight to the world of figure skating. Tara Lipinski‘s subtle cattiness is splendid at times. And Tanith Belbin is just sweet as sweet all the time, especially when she is offering to find scissors to trim costumes that are too long.
But you cannot beat Scott Hamilton for amaze-tastic commentary. It is not possible.
Skate America 2010 witnessed the return of live in-house commentary by Scott Hamilton, supporting roles awarded to Tracy Wilson and Terry Gannon. Performances were peppered with cries of “Ding!” “Bam!” “Aughauhgghhg!” and “Niiiiiice!”
It was magical.
The dramatic verbosity kicked off immediately with the pronouncement that the participants of this Grand Prix “come to begin a new four-year journey at Skate America.”
While my heart was still doing flips over the return of Scott, he went ahead and elaborated that after an Olympics year “There’s kind of this almost chaotic changing of the guard. You got these grizzled veterans out here, some of these girls are eighteen years old—Carolina Kostner she’s 23—but they’ve got these young emerging talents coming up behind them and kind of nipping on their heels and sometimes getting past them and it’s like, ‘Wait, it’s MY turn!’”
Let’s get straight to my favorite gems.
“You wanna have the confidence, all that you can muster into the triple axel..and beautiful! That was nothing but neck, that was awesome!” regarding 19-year-old American men’s competitor, Armin Mahbanoozadeh’s free skate to music from Avatar.
In the realm of Scott saying things as I think them, “a lot of interesting body positions [Mahbanoozadeh’s] using in his spins.”
We’re on the same wavelength. Isn’t it great?
Anyway the young American had a great skate, beating his personal best thus provoking a jubilant Terry Gannon to declare, “His best has been—for the free skate—just over 121. And how ‘bout just waving at it as he sails by it?!” as the 143.56 score pops up.
Which is, naturally, how I feel about deadlines of course.
Then Scott nearly orgasmed over Adam Rippon’s trademark lutz jumps with both arms over his head which no one else in the world does (Brian Boitano does one arm over his head). One could almost see Scott leaping out of his seat in excitement.
And then all three of the commentators wrote an ode to the wonder that is Daisuke Takahashi (all the while, each of them pronounced his name differently), despite a free skate peppered with technical mistakes. A catalog of the madness? Of course:
“He’s an incredible showman. Because of his presentation he has about a six point buffer in the free skate program.” ~Wilson
“It’s the quality of every edge, his presence, the way he interprets the music—and then you throw on his extraordinary jumping ability on top of that.” ~Hamilton
“Look at this footwork, look at the way he moves!” ~Wilson
“So tight, so crisp, every movement is just bam, bam, bam. It brings the audience into the performance.” ~Hamilton
“As he flirts shamelessly with the judges!” ~Wilson
“No one in the world can really deliver choreography with that kind of dynamic. No one touches him in that regard.” ~Scott
If I had more time, I would have forged those comments into a sonnet. Possibly Scott Hamilton has already written one in his spare time.
At any rate despite the whole “moments of brilliance, sloppy at times” (Wilson) issue in Takahashi’s free skate the Japanese World Champion still placed first with countryman Nobunari Oda in second and Mahbanoozadeh slipping onto the podium for the bronze: “I heard the audience cheering for me and as I ended and I saw them standing, I just couldn’t believe it it was a great moment for me… I truthfully wasn’t even expecting to land on the podium, it’s beyonf what I was thinking would happen. I’m just ecstatic, maybe it will sink in tonight, I don’t know… I just feel like I wanna be considered competitive among the world’s best and I think today was a step forward.”
The ladies free skate presentation was prefaced by a replay of fabulous new Japanese lady Kanako Murakami’s short skate, which is adorable and marvelous and made me fall a little bit in love with her at the Grand Prix Japan. Scott cried out in joy for her jumps and Wilson enthused, “Well she’s the bright light that’s already shining through, heading to the Olympics four years away, and I say with four years to improve, her timing could be perfect. She’s got a bounce to her step , she’s a bundle of enthusiasm, she’s so much fun to watch!”
She does the whole nod emphatically to her coach and then race away to her starting pose, reminding me of Mirai Nagasu’s typical pre-skate demeanor.
She and Scott opened energetically crying, “Triple toe biiiig—and triple toe ! LOTS of speed coming out!”
It wasn’t her most magnificent skate, but she still scored a 110.98 (total 164.93) placing ahead of US Champion, Rachael Flatt… and everyone else for the gold in her second senior Grand Prix event!
Plus, her coach Machiko Yamada is super glam, wearing fabulous scarfed and sunglasses all the time. Love.
Flatt was her typical “Reliable Rachael” self—a phrase of which commentators will apparently never tire. Scott, in a frenzy of praise at the end of her program elucidated, “There’s a work ethic there! If you can just skate like that everytime—and she does—you’re going to have success!”
Thanks for the explanation of her success, Scott. I thought maybe she never practiced or something.
Thank you Scott. I look forward to Nationals, where I imagine you will also be commenting.